Ko in share of women’s Aust Open golf lead

World No.

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1 Lydia Ko says Royal Melbourne is leaving her scratching her head despite taking a share of the lead into the final round of the Australian Open.

The New Zealand teenager’s usual birdie haul eluded her on Saturday, with searing heat baking the greens on Melbourne’s sand-belt.

She collected three birdies against two bogeys in a round of one-under 72 to move to seven under for the tournament.

She shares the lead with Thai teen Ariya Jutanugarn, who had the same third-round score.

Ko said conditions were so tough it was like playing in a major.

“You hit in on to the green and you have this humungous break,” Ko said.

“It’s tough in every aspect … it does feel like a major.”

While Ko will start raging favourite in the final round, South Korea’s Amy Yang is in hot pursuit after a three-under 70 to be a shot back at six under.

Australia’s Katherine Kirk posted six birdies for a three-under 70 in one of the rounds of the day to move to four-under alongside Paraguay’s Julieta Granada.

South Korea’s Ha Na Jang, who held the overnight lead with Ko and Jutanugarn, signed for a 76 to drop back to a share of sixth.

Defending champion Karrie Webb was out on course early and had an impressive round of two-under to be in a tie for 27th at three over.

Kirk, who finished second in last week’s Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast, felt she couldn’t have got any more out of her round.

Kirk said the greens were the toughest the women would have to compete on this year.

“I’m very happy with it because it’s not easy to make birdies out there and I made six,” Kirk said. “I made two long putts and they’re just bonuses but that’s probably as good as it gets today.”

Ko said navigating Royal Melbourne’s greens was so tough she predicted that 10-under would be enough to take the title on Sunday, particularly if the wind came up.

The best score of the third round was a four-under par 69 by Malaysia’s Ilhee Lee, who would be in contention but for a shocking second round 82.

“Sometimes it’s guess work so I think a couple under par would be good and that’s going to be my goal,” the 17-year-old said.

Ko said she felt a little frustrated about not being able to make more birdies.

With more hot temperatures forecast for Sunday Ko was asked if she’d take a 71 if offered.

“Yes, I would,” she laughed.

“If I don’t have to play in that heat and get a 71 I’d take it.”

Eels NRL spots still up for grabs

A Reece Robinson hat-trick has guided Parramatta to a 30-22 NRL trial victory over Penrith, giving the club hope that there is life after Jarryd Hayne.

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Canberra recruit Reece Robinson starred with a 22-point haul while Will Hopoate scored the match-sealer and look assured after inheriting the No.1 jersey from NFL aspirant Hayne.

Robinson kicked five goals, but is not assured of taking the club’s goal-kicking duties from Chris Sandow this year, but all but wrapped up a round 1 wing spot.

Eels coach Brad Arthur said he was still tossing up on a number of positions after returning prop Danny Wicks and halfback Sandow were rested from the clash at Pepper Stadium in Penrith on Saturday.

The club is also still waiting on an NRL clearance on Richie Fa’aoso, who is coming out of retirement.

“It’s tough (to come up with a best 17), I would have liked to have had a couple of other boys out there, Danny and Richie to see how they went, and Chris and Brad Takairangi,” Arthur said.

“I’ll just have to sit back and have a look at the tape.”

Arthur lamented his side’s cohesion, with both sides looking rusty just two weeks out from the season kick off.

Former Manly backrower Anthony Watmough had a fairly quiet afternoon in his first hit-out in a Parramatta, jersey however Arthur said he was happy with some of his touches.

Penrith centre Jamal Idris made a successful return from a back injury and said he was raring to go for round one against Canterbury.

Idris underwent back surgery just over three weeks ago and pushed himself in his recovery to play the side’s final trial.

“I actually went better than I expected,” he said.

“It’s been about three weeks since spinal surgery and I felt pretty good.

“I did all of the pre-season before (surgery) which was definitely a blessing.

“I had a week or so of running, which was good, and I felt pretty good out there.”

George Jennings scored twice and all but locked up the wing position of Josh Mansour, who is recovering from shoulder surgery and is due back in round 4.

Rob Jennings, the youngest of the Jennings trio, also scored after coming on in the second half, showing why he is so highly rated when he produced an eye-catching one-handed put down in the corner.

Parramatta prop Darcy Lussick had a game to forget – he was put on report for a head-high tackle on Matt Moylan before leaving the field midway through the first half with a minor hamstring injury. He is expected to be fit for round one.

Raptors blow out Hawks 105-80 in NBA

Toronto has turned the much-anticipated clash of the NBA Eastern Conference’s top two teams into a mismatch, winning 105-80 in Atlanta.

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Resuming after the All-Star break, the Raptors now move to within five and a half games of the Hawks for the East lead.

Toronto’s Lou Williams scored 26 points and DeMar DeRozan added 21 points in the game.

Toronto has three wins from four this season against the Hawks, who have not lost more than once to any other opponent.

In the day’s other big game, Golden State’s Stephen Curry had 25 points and 11 assists as the Warriors beat San Antonio 110-99.

Klay Thompson scored 20 while Curry controlled the game the way he so often has this season, burnishing his MVP credentials by leading Golden State to big scoring runs at the end of the second and third quarters.

The Warriors went ahead by 21 points entering the fourth, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rested his regulars in the final 12 minutes.

Elsewhere, Dallas beat Houston 111-100 to move within half a game of the Rockets in the Southwest Division.

Devin Harris scored 17 points and Al-Farouq Aminu set season highs with 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Mavericks.

Cleveland’s LeBron James set aside first-half foul trouble to finish with 28 points in only 25 minutes and help the Cavaliers overwhelm Washington 127-89.

Kyrie Irving scored 25 points for Cleveland, which led by 22 points before halftime and as many as 40 to cruise to a 15th win in 17 games.

An undermanned Detroit won 100-91 against Chicago, with Andre Drummond contributing 18 points and 20 rebounds.

Utah dominated in the second half to beat Portland 92-76.

Gordon Hayward scored 20 points, and Trey Burke had 19 points off the bench for the Jazz, who at one stage turned an eight-point deficit into a 21-point lead.

Damian Lillard scored 19 points for the Trail Blazers.

Milwaukee’s new-look roster came up with an 89-81 win against Denver.

Orlando won consecutive games for the first time in five weeks, beating New Orleans 95-84.

Minnesota edged an undermanned Phoenix 111-109, with the Suns only having 10 players available, having traded Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas and three others the previous day.

Sacramento made new coach George Karl a winner on his return to the NBA, beating Boston 109-101, with DeMarcus Cousins having 31 points and 15 rebounds.

Indiana made it five wins from six with a 106-95 victory at Philadelphia, and Miami beat New York 111-87.

Qld man charged over toboggan rescue

Two boys feared swept away in Queensland’s floodwaters have been found safe and well after a desperate search for them.

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But in a separate incident on a day of storm chaos on the state’s Sunshine Coast, a man will face court after he was caught taking a young boy for a ride on a single blow-up toboggan in fast-flowing waters.

The pair were rescued at a property in Woodford on Saturday afternoon although neither was injured, police said.

A 40-year-old local has been charged with public nuisance.

The rescue operation was one of two police were involved with on the Sunshine Coast following localised flooding throughout central and southeast Queensland due to heavy rainfall from Cyclone Marcia.

The search for the two teenage boys feared swept away in floodwaters at Beerwah was called off on Saturday afternoon after they were found safe and well.

The search was launched after a member of the public told police they had spotted the teens clinging to a tree amid floodwaters.

Eight police crews, multiple swift water rescue teams as well as a rescue helicopter were deployed to help.

But the pair contacted police about three hours later and said they were safe and unhurt.

“It appears the boys were able to reach land without assistance,” a statement from police read.

Police have put out a stern public warning saying “it would seem that the simplest of messages are often the hardest to receive”.

“Flooded creeks and rivers, fast-flowing waterways and watercourses and churned up oceans are dangerous places to play,” the statement read.

Clothes arrive and so does Kirk

Wearing her own clothes and a beaming smile, Katherine Kirk says her third round of the women’s Australian Open golf tournament is as “good as it gets”.

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Last week the 32-year-old Queenslander finished second at the Ladies Masters, despite playing the opening round using borrowed clubs and clothes after her bags didn’t arrive from the US in time.

But in the third round at Royal Melbourne Kirk looked all class as she posted six birdies to move to four under, three shots behind joint leaders Lydia Ko and another teenager, Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn.

Kirk is the best of the Australian contingent with teen Minjee Lee next at even par after a one under in her third round.

“It’s definitely been better preparation than last week,” Kirk said.

“I’ve had three good rounds so far and I’m very happy to be in contention.”

In steamy conditions Kirk’s hot streak came on the back nine when she posted four consecutive birdies between 13 and 16 including a monster 11 metre putt on that last hole.

She also had three bogeys but said she’d take that on such a tough course.

Kirk said Royal Melbourne had the firmest greens she expected to compete on all year.

“I’m very happy with it because it’s not easy to make birdies out there and I made six.

“I made two long putts and they’re just bonuses but that’s probably as good as it gets today.

“You know this week that you’re going to make bogeys; it’s a tough golf course and they’re inevitable.

“My mindset all week has been just grind it out.”

The two-time LPGA Tour winner feels a first tournament victory since the ALPG Mount Broughton Classic in January 2011 isn’t far away.

“I was happy with how I struck the ball on Sunday so I brought that confidence into this week but when you’re playing a course as tough as this you don’t really have any expectation other than you just have to keep your head down and fight to the last hole,” Kirk said.